In the wake of widespread book bans across the state, a Florida school district is moving to prevent students from consuming certain movies too. On March 2, the film Ruby Bridges, a historical drama chronicling the six-year-old’s integration of her New Orleans elementary school in 1960, was shown to approximately 60 second grade students at North Shore Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Florida. The screening led to a complaint from one parent and the district has since banned the movie from being shown to any more students.
According to a report in The Tampa Bay Times yesterday (March 27), each student was required to submit a permission slip signed by a parent to participate in the classroom screening. One of those parents aired their grievances on March 6 after watching the first 50 minutes of the film, alleging that it teaches students about racial slurs and how “white people hate Black people,” per NBC News. Pinellas County Schools public information officer Isabel Mascareñas told NBC that a link to the trailer was included in the permission slips for all parents to review.
Released in 1998, Ruby Bridges shows the future civil rights icon as she faces racism while simply pursuing an education as a young girl. The movie earned awards and nominations including a nod for outstanding television movie or mini-series at the NAACP Image Awards.
After the parent complained about the movie, the Pinellas County School District temporarily banned Ruby Bridges from the elementary school. “It was communicated with the parent that the school would not have any future showings during this school year as the movie had already been shown,” Mascareñas said. While it’s been barred from North Shore Elementary pending review, it remains available through the school district’s licensed movie library.
It’s not the first time Pinellas County has scuttled Black history from its schools in recent months. Earlier this year, it banned Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” from all high school classes after one parent complained about the book’s rape scene. Moves like these come after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Stop WOKE Act into law in April 2022, restricting racially inclusive teachings in schools. In January of this year, the DeSantis Administration blocked a new AP African American Studies course from being taught in the state as a result of the legislation.
Ruby Bridges is currently available to stream on Disney+.
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